Per head coach Kyle Shanahan, McKivitz will get the start at left tackle versus the Rams in Williams’ absence.
While replacing a high-caliber talent like that of Williams is no easy task, McKivitz has proven he can handle the job in the past. The third-year offensive lineman stepped in for Williams in the 49ers 2021 regular season finale versus Los Angeles with a playoff berth on the line.
“That was such a big game, and we were really hoping we were going to have Trent, obviously,” Shanahan said. “I just remember when we told Colton he was up, and it was no big deal to him. He went out there and he performed. It was a huge challenge going against those two edge players they (the Rams) had, and he just battles all game. Whether he gets beat or not, he’s going to be there every play and that always gives you a chance.”
49ers run game coordinator Chris Foerster echoed the sentiment when asked about his confidence in McKivitz headed into Monday night’s game.
“When he played in that last game of the season, in the 17th game against the Rams, he got beat with two minutes left in the game,” Foerster said. “That was the last time anybody got near the quarterback on him. It’s not easy in a game of that magnitude, to step in, make your block, get beat at the most critical time of the game… He’s the right kind of guy and has really worked hard for us.”
More recently, McKivitz split reps at left tackle with sophomore offensive lineman Jaylon Moore following Williams’ early departure from the game against the Broncos. Had McKivitz not been dealing with an ankle injury of his own, Shanahan noted that No. 68 would have likely served as the main backup for Williams in that contest.
“He got banged up during the week,” Shanahan said on Sunday night following the team’s loss to Denver. “We just gave all the reps on the right side, left side and stuck with it.”
A strong performance from McKivitz and the offensive line as whole will be crucial in jumpstarting the 49ers offense on Monday night. In Week 3, the offensive unit struggled to find a rhythm, going one-of-ten on third down conversations, and was unable to get the ground game going, rushing for a total of just 88 yards in Denver. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was also sacked four times, creating long down and distance situations that were difficult for the offensive unit to overcome.